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Putin at Valdai, Rejects Idea of Lowering Threshold for Use of Nuclear Weapons

Oct. 6, 2023, (EIRNS)—Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a discussion at the Valdai Club’s annual conference on Oct. 5 in Sochi, rejected any notion of lowering the threshold for Russia’s use of nuclear weapons. Putin was responding to a question from Sergei Karaganov, a founding member of the Valdai Club, who has been vociferously advocating for not only lowering the nuclear threshold, but even detonating a nuclear weapon in Europe on the theory that somehow this will prevent an escalation of the threat against Russia.

Karaganov asked Putin: “Is it high time we modify the doctrine on using nuclear weapons, lowering the nuclear threshold and moving steadily and sufficiently quickly along the staircase of escalation, deterrence and bringing our partners down to Earth?”

Putin replied by reminding the audience that there are two reasons for using nuclear weapons laid out in Russia’s nuclear doctrine. “The first is the use of nuclear weapons against us, which would entail a so-called retaliatory strike,” he said. He argued that the response to a nuclear attack on Russian soil

“will be absolutely unacceptable for any potential aggressor, because seconds after we detect the launch of missiles, wherever they are coming from, from any point in the World Ocean or land, the counterstrike in response will involve hundreds—hundreds of our missiles in the air, so that no enemy will have a chance to survive. And [we can respond] in several directions at once,”

he said. The second reason is a conventional attack on Russia sufficiently powerful to threaten the existence of the Russian state.

“Do we need to change this? Why would we? Everything can be changed, but I just don’t see that we need to,” Putin continued. “There is no situation imaginable today where something would threaten Russian statehood and the existence of the Russian state. I do not think anyone in their right mind would consider using nuclear weapons against Russia.”

Putin reported that the development of the new strategic weapons that he announced during his March 1, 2018 speech to the Federal Assembly is nearing completion. “The latest test launch of Burevestnik was a success,” he said.

“This is a nuclear-powered cruise missile with a basically unlimited range. By and large, Sarmat, the super heavy missile, is also ready. All we have left is to complete all the administrative and bureaucratic procedures and paperwork so that we can move to mass production and deploy it in combat standby mode. We will do this soon.”

As for the matter of nuclear testing, Putin indicated that Russia could revoke its ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty—that would have to be enacted by the State Duma—but that it probably wouldn’t be necessary to go beyond that point.

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